Thursday, December 30, 2010

11 Ways To Have a Miserable 2011

1. Don’t plan. Just roll with the punches. Be reactive and not proactive. Don’t make a list of things you want to get done, places you want to go, people you want to connect with, and goals you want to accomplish. Just remember, when you fail to plan then you are planning to fail.

2. Do as much as you can by yourself. Don’t enlist the help of others. Don’t seek the advice of others. Misery loves company, but it most likely happens alone.

3. Neglect your most important relationships. Seek intimacy in inappropriate ways. Don’t trust others. Be afraid of being hurt. Gossip about others to feel good about yourself. Talk more and listen less. Demand your own way. Nitpick. Demand others be who you want them to be rather than their true selves. Believe kindness is overrated. Don’t be patient with others. Demand perfection. Carry grudges and don’t forgive others. Make others pay for their mistakes.

4. Stay busy. Don’t schedule downtime. Stay plugged into technology at all times. Be connected a little bit to everything and everybody so that you aren’t really connected to anything or anybody. Say “yes” to so many average things so that you don’t have the time or energy to say “yes” to the best things.

5. Don’t deal with your past. Carry all burdens of your past mistakes. Realize it’s not likely you are going to change. Don’t forgive yourself. Let your history define your future.

6. Don’t take any risks. Be afraid of falling. Be afraid of failing. Play it safe. Don’t explore. Don’t chase dreams. Don’t be vulnerable or authentic with others: the chance of being hurt a little bit far outweighs the benefit of loving someone and being loved by someone.

7. Quit when times get tough. Throw in the towel the first time you take a punch to the stomach. Raise the white flag when the battle is not going your way. Accept the easy life and don’t strive for the good life.


8. Place a lot of stock in what other people think about you. Try to impress others. Base your self-worth on what you think others perceive about you.

9. Don’t give anything to anybody. Hoard your holdings. Stockpile your savings. You have earned what you have. Keep it. Be stingy with your time and energy too. You can get far greater blessings in life doing what you want to do rather than helping a child or a hurting person.

10. Don’t worry about your character and integrity. Let things slide. Take a few shortcuts if it’s what you need to do. Cover up your shortcomings with image management. Do the easy thing and not the right thing. Don’t care who you are when nobody is looking.

11. Don’t focus too much on your relationship with God. You will have plenty of time to do that in the future.

The worst is yet to come…

Craig

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

From Resolution to Reality: Bible Reading Plan

In about five to ten minutes per day, you can read through the entire New Testament in one year. Stay consistent and make focused Bible reading a daily habit.
  • Read the selected chapter each day.
  • Spend some time in prayer reflecting on how God spoke to you through the reading.
  • Read the study guide for the day you are on to dig a little deeper into a few selected verses.
  • Respond to the questions and prayer guides as you apply the biblical teachings to your life.
  • Read Sunday’s Bible passage and review the study guide before worship.

From Resolution to Reality

Saturday – January 1st - 2 Corinthians 5
Verse 17 talks about how we can become new persons in Christ. In your life this year, what would you like to become new?

Verse 18 states God has given people the task of reconciling people to Him. Who are the people in 2011 that you will do your best in reconciling them to God?

Sunday – January 2nd - A Blank Page - Revelation 21

In verse 1 the Bible talks about the “old things” disappearing. What are some things in your life you would like to see disappear and become old?

In verse 5 the Bible talks about God “making all things new.” Review your list from yesterday about what you would like to become new this year. What would you like to add? What would you like to emphasize?

Monday – January 3rd - John 1
Verse 30 is a verse about humility. John was an excellent preacher, but he was content for Jesus to have a much higher place. God will do great things through us when we are content to do the tasks God wants us to do. Think of a few things God is asking you to do in your life. Ask God for the skills and strength to be faithful in doing these things regardless of whether you get recognition or not

Tuesday – January 4th - John 2

In verses 15 and 16 Jesus got angry. Anger is not necessarily a bad thing. Anger can lead us to fighting for justice for the oppressed. Anger can also be destructive for us and for those around us. How do you deal with anger? Does injustice in society lead you to actions that will make the world a better place? Do small annoyances irk you and lead you to lash out against others?

Wednesday – January 5th - John 3

Verse 6 continues the theme of new life. Review your response from January 1 and 2. What is working well about becoming “new”? What isn’t working so well? What adjustments are you going to make? Verse 16 is the most well known verse in the Bible. How does being loved by God make a difference in your life?

Thursday – January 6th - John 4
The story of the woman at a well is a profound teaching that Jesus embraces all persons. The woman was a Samaritan (an unpopular mixed race) and had a bad reputation. Jewish men would not have talked to this sort of woman. Not an issue for Jesus. All people mattered to him. Do all people matter to you? Pray for the heart to embrace all people regardless of social position, past history, beliefs, gender, and race.

Friday – January 7th - John 5

In the beginning of this chapter, Jesus healed a man who was unable to walk. An important identity of Jesus was healer. Read verse 7. The man feels trapped and hopeless. In verse 8 Jesus gives him hope. In what areas of your life do you need healing, feel trapped, and maybe even experience hopelessness? Ask God for healing in these areas of your life. Also ask God to use your hurts and experiences to help others who share similar hurts.

Saturday – January 8th - John 6

The story of Jesus feeding 5,000 people teaches us one of the great truths of life: God can take what we give Him and turn it into something great. The young boy in verse 9 gave Jesus what he had and Jesus multiplied the offering. If the boy hadn’t given this offering then Jesus would have had nothing to work with. Are you holding back giving your financial resources, your time, your talent, and your energy to Jesus? Begin a lifestyle of giving more to God and trust he will begin to do more through you.

Sunday – January 9th - Abide - John 15

We can make the mistake of trying to do more in life. Our culture teaches us that doing is essential. We are often evaluated and judged for what we do. Yet Jesus teaches in verse 4 that apart from God we can do nothing. The teaching of Jesus is to abide in God, to remain close to God, and to be near God. Life is first about being and the doing comes out of our being. What in this teaching and Craig’s sermon challenged you? What adjustments in your life are you planning to make?

Monday - January 10th - John 7
People were making fun of Jesus in verses 3 and 4. Notice the response of Jesus – it was filled with grace. How do you respond when others make fun of you? Pray for the ability not to escalate arguments and make a bad situation worse.

Tuesday – January 11th - John 8

The story of Jesus forgiving a guilty woman is relevant to all of our lives. Jesus said he didn’t condemn the guilty woman in verse 11. He followed up by telling her to go and sin no more. How does being forgiven by God change you? How are you going to respond to Jesus when he says: “Go and sin no more”?

Wednesday – January 12th - John 9
We all experience pain in life like the man in verses 1 to 7. When we suffer try not to get caught up on questions like, “Why did this happen?” Instead ask God for His strength and the help of others to deal with the pain. Think about ways God can be glorified (verse 4) through your sufferings.

Thursday – January 13th - John 10
Verse 10 is another of the most profound teachings of Jesus: Satan comes to steal and destroy while Jesus comes to give life. What is Satan trying to steal from you? In what ways are you allowing Satan to destroy the life Jesus is trying to give you? Any type of gift needs to be accepted. Review January 9th. What relationship do you see in abiding in Jesus and accepting the gift of life Jesus offers?

Friday – January 14th - John 11
Verse 35 gives us a picture of Jesus we only see one time: He wept. This short verse gives a picture of who God is and who God is not. Instead of being an aloof powerhouse, God is compassionate, interested, and involved. These attributes of God give us the opportunity to be real and authentic with God. Are you holding anything back from being truly yourself with God? The challenge today and in the days to come is to be as authentic with God as possible.

Saturday – January 15th - John 12

In verse 3 Mary put expensive perfume on the feet of Jesus. In verse 4 and following, Judas made an observation that this perfume should have been sold and the proceeds given to marginalized people. Does Jesus’ response in verses 7 and 8 surprise you? Jesus notes worship is the highest priority for humans: to give, relate, serve, and connect with God. What are you giving up in your life (Mary gave expensive perfume) to worship God fully?

Sunday – January 16th - Who are You? - Revelation 3

Verse 1 talks about the difference between reputation (what others think of you) and character (who you are). We are often more concerned with our reputation. God is more concerned with our character. Is who others think you are pretty much the same as who you actually are? If not, is the tension of image management wearing you down? What in this teaching and Craig’s sermon challenged you? What adjustments in your life are you planning to make?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Boxing Day

Here is my message from today. It's Boxing Day throughout the world and it was Boxing Day at The Waters Edge as well. Thanks to Matt Kelly for producing this.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Blindness

I've had a number of requests to post the video showed during our worship services yesterday afternoon and last night. Here you go!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Eve

Here is my column for tomorrow night. We have services at 4:30 and 6:00 at Millard West in the auditorium. Hope to see you there!

Christmas Eve. It used to be my favorite day of the year. My parents, siblings, and I would take the one block walk to my grandparents. Grandpa got the fire going. We snooped around the Christmas tree to see what package had our name on it. We never formally ate. We just grazed on a smorgasbord of Norwegian food: lutefisk, kringle, lefse, raw oysters, meatballs, and rice pudding. The adults drank some concoction my grandpa mixed together. All I remember is it was some kind of orange slushy thing that smelled funny. A nut was buried in the rice pudding. Whoever got the nut won a prize. Since I was the youngest, I usually won the prize. Ironically, the prize was a box of chocolate covered cherries, perhaps the only form of chocolate I don’t like.


Then my oldest brother took the stockings down from the fireplace mantle. We dug into our stockings and discovered small toys, books, and loads of sugar. Then I got to deliver the Christmas presents. Meticulously. One at a time. After each present was opened, we saved what could be reused of the wrapping paper and I burned the rest. As the boxes and wrapping paper heated the room, Grandpa gave me stern instructions of what package to deliver next.

As the fireplace cooled down, the presents were all put away, and the dishes were done—we went to church at 11:00 p.m. The little church would be packed full of people. We sang Christmas songs, listened to the pastor ramble on, and lit candles as we sang Silent Night. Great way to spend a night.

Years later, I still love Christmas Eve. Life is much different now. I’m the pastor who rambles on. It is a busy time for me. But in the busyness, blessedness can be found.

  • Not under a tree, but in a manger.
  • Not in a catalog, buy in a Holy Book.
  • Not in Norwegian food and some smelly orange slush, but in bread and some wine.

Christmas Eve reminds me more than anything else about God’s grace. Undeserved merit. It’s nothing we can earn or take. It can only be given and received.

Grace is God’s idea. It is forgiveness from our past. Freedom in the present. Hope for the future. It is how the world began and it is how the world will end.

Christmas is a yearly reminder that God is with us. If we don’t know this, nothing else matters. If we do know this, nothing else matters.

Family, presents, food, hope, grace – enjoy them all and a have a Merry Christmas.

Craig

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Worry

Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow. But worry will rob today of its joy. Worry can give a small thing a big shadow. Stop worrying and start living.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Weekly Devotional Guide - Peace

We pray these scriptures, talking points, and questions bring you more fully into His peace. May all thoughts, anxieties, fears and distractions that keep you from fully being present to God, and to those around you, be quieted by the presence of God. Thanks to Stephanie Reinhart for preparing this guide.

Monday, December 20th

Read Isaiah 9:6

For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father of Eternity, Prince of Peace.

He is our Wonderful Counselor, but how do we know we’re hearing from God?
  • Make a commitment to seek God in decision making. If it’s God’s direction, it will not contradict his Word.
  • Seek the counsel of, and be accountable to others; a close friend of like faith, your spouse, or a board member.
  • Ask God to give you the grace to yield to His counsel and will for your life.
Tuesday, December 21st

Read Isaiah 9:6

For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father of Eternity, Prince of Peace.

Whether you are at the height of success in your life or at the edge of catastrophe, He is your Mighty God. Ephesians 6:10 teaches us that His “mighty power” is for us. He will not leave us half way through the journey.
  • Where are you in your journey, the mountain top, the plains, or the valley? Know that He is there.
  • Give thanks, that He is mighty in you and through you (Ephesians 6:10).
  • Trust Him with all your heart (Proverbs 3:5).
Wednesday, December 22nd

Read Isaiah 9:6

For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father of Eternity, Prince of Peace.

It’s a comfort to know that God is the Everlasting Father of Eternity; He formed us in the womb (Psalms 139:5), journeys with us for our lifetime (Hebrews 13:5), and brings us back into His arms at journey’s end (John 11:25).

He is our spiritual Father, like no earthly Father has ever been. His name brings life, more than the air we breathe. He is love, and always wants the best for us (Romans 8:28).

He graciously gives us the choice to invite Him in. God promises to be there!

Ask God to take you and everything about you in His hands. Ask Him to direct your paths. Go with God, and enjoy His peace.

Thursday, December 23rd

Read Isaiah 9:6

For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father of Eternity, Prince of Peace.

Jesus is not just the one who brings Peace, but is the Prince of Peace. The prophet Micah, 700 years before Christ’s birth, declared “And He shall be their peace.” (Micah 5:2-5). His peace is not as elusive as we may imagine, but it is plentiful when we find ourselves in Him.

When we give our all to God, He becomes our all in all, and we are found in Him.
Make a commitment to love God from the inside out, with everything that is in you.
Look for God in people you meet and situations you face, be open to His Spirit in you, shaping you into a vessel of His Peace. Be His peace, hope, joy, and love to others, regardless of situation or circumstance.

Friday, December 24th

Read Isaiah 9:7

Of the increase of His government and of peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from the latter time forth, even forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

The Message Bible, translates the passage above “and of peace there shall be no end”, to “and there'll be no limits to the wholeness he brings”. This is the promise of God for you! In Matthew 21:22, Jesus says “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
  • Whatever your need, God is waiting and wants for you to bring it all to Him.
  • When you pray, believe you have that which you have asked for, then wait expectantly (Psalms 5:3)
  • Hold your prayers with open hands before God, with thankfulness for His answer.
  • His answer may not, match up with what you think it should be, but you can count on it to be part of His plan.
Saturday, December 25th

Pray:

God, You are merciful; You sent Your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation. We ask for grace to truly hear their words of warning and wash our hands of our sins, that we may celebrate aright the remembrance of the birth of Christ. We await, with joy, the second coming in glory of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Redeemer. Christ lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

My Christmas List - Peace

Friday, December 17, 2010

Opportunity Cost

You sit at the board and suddenly your heart leaps. Your hand trembles to pick up the piece and move it. But what chess teaches you is that you must sit there calmly and think about whether it's really a good idea and whether there are other, better ideas. -Stanley Kubrick

And so it is with life. Everyday we make choices. Most of the time our choices are not between good and bad options, but between good and better options. The busyness of the Christmas season magnifies the importance of choices regarding our limited time, energy, and finances.

Economists call choosing between more than one good alternative opportunity cost. For example, if a business purchases new machines to make the same widget more efficiently than before then an opportunity cost would be money that is not spent on research and development to make new and better widgets in the future. The economist would argue that many people can make poor economic decisions because they don’t consider opportunity cost. I contend we can make poor decisions with our time and energy because we don’t consider opportunity cost. We often do what is expected and easy rather that what is better and right.

  • Nothing is wrong with going to a few Christmas parties. But maybe a better option is saying “no” to a party so we can say “yes” to staying home and playing games with the kids.
  • Being connected to a constant feed of information and the world can be good too. But maybe a better option is unplugging from technology so that we can more deeply connect with the friends and family with whom we are physically present.
  • Giving our kids many gifts and making them feel loved is good. But maybe a better option is giving them a few less gifts, giving the saved money to a charity, and then serving at the charity together so the kids have an opportunity to love.

The problem often comes with saying “no”. We don’t like saying “no” to what is expected or what is good. But, by saying “yes” to what is expected and what is good, we are often forced to say “no” to what is better and / or what is right.

The Christmas gift you can give yourself this year that will keep giving back to you throughout all your years is to manage your schedule and money so that your schedule and money don’t mange you. Define your priorities and dream big. Align your resources to live out your priorities and chase down your dreams. Paul says the same thing when he wrote to the Romans: Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Weekly Devotional Guide - Love

In John 17:13 Jesus shared his desire that His joy be “made full and complete and perfect in us”. We pray these scriptures, talking points, and questions help guide, strengthen and release you into His joy.

Monday, December 13th

Read Luke 1:39-41

And at that time Mary arose and went quickly into the hill country to a town of Judah, and she went to the house of Zachariah and, entering it, greeted Elizabeth. It occurred that when Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Understanding the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives, the third part of the Trinity of God is vital to our life in Christ.
  • Do you rely on God to lead and guide you, or do you tend to compartmentalize, only letting Him into certain areas?
  • Romans 8:9 describes how the Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts to lead and guide us in every aspect of life.
  • Pray for the grace to open the door to every room in your heart to the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Tuesday, December 14th

Read John 16:13-14

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me.

The Holy Spirit enables us to understand and interpret the Word of God and guides us in knowing truth. The Word also describes the Holy Spirit as the Comforter, Counselor, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener and Standby.
  • Sometimes the truth is hard to take. If God revealed truth to you that required change, how would you respond?
  • Pray for the Holy Spirit to guide you into all truth. Thank Him for being with you, and helping you to know, understand and embrace truth.
Wednesday, December 15th

Read Galatians 5:19-25 (NLT)

When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.

“Follow the Spirit’s leading in EVERY part of our lives?” Look at the lists again…the sins…okay, and now the benefits of the Holy Spirit living in you. Okay, honestly, the sins are full of heartache and destruction. The benefits are a dream come true!
  • Do you battle with passions /desires that are not of God? Pray and picture yourself leaving it all at the foot of the cross. Okay, now get up and walk away; that’s right, leave it there!
  • Pray and thank God that it is the Holy Spirit you are living by.
  • Ask Him for grace to follow His leading in every part of your life.
Thursday, December 16th

Read Luke 1:42-43

And she cried out with a loud cry, and then exclaimed, “Blessed, favored of God, above all other women are you! And blessed is the Fruit of your womb! And how have I deserved that this honor should be granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”

Our society places such a premium on position, intellect, and possessions, much higher than spirituality. Would we be so quick to call Mary blessed?
  • How do you rank your spirituality in importance compared to your position, possessions or intellect?
  • As we come to know Him more fully, our gratitude deepens.
  • Thank God today for the gifts of His Spirit that you might know Him better, and treasure His presence.
Friday, December 17th

Read Luke 1:44-45

For behold, the instant the sound of your salutation reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy and blessed with joy is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of the things that were spoken to her from the Lord.

It’s amazing how Elizabeth knew, by the Holy Spirit, what was going on in Mary’s life. Read Mary’s reply in Luke 1:46-55
  • Mary couldn’t wait to “magnify the Lord!” Make this your goal…to magnify the wonders of God with your life.
  • Ask God to be magnified in you, and to create opportunities for you to magnify Him.
Saturday, December 18th

Pray:

God, You are merciful; You sent Your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation. We ask for grace to truly hear their words of warning and wash our hands of our sins, that we may celebrate aright the remembrance of the birth of Christ. We await, with joy, the second coming in glory of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Redeemer. Christ lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Different Kind of Christmas

Last Christmas my family and I were snowed in. Five feet of snow pressed against our garage door. The snowplow pushed feet of compacted snow and chunks of ice on top of a few feet of freshly fallen and wind-drifted snow. We couldn’t have gone anywhere, even if we wanted to because the entrances to our neighborhood were impassable. We exchanged gifts. We played games. I made a pot of chili and Amber and the boys made a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies. I told stories. We read. We played more games. It was maybe my most memorable Christmas ever. A different kind of Christmas.


I was thinking about words we use to describe the Christmas season: busy, stressful, obligated, predictable, and maybe even empty. Are you interested in a different kind of Christmas?

Spend less and give more. Five languages of love exist: tangible gifts, physical touch, quality time, words of affirmation, and acts of service. Most of our giving at Christmas comes in the form of tangible gifts but most of us best receive love in another way! Giving a hug, being present with somebody, writing a note of encouragement, or cleaning the house may mean far more to somebody than buying them a gift. Some of the best Christmas gifts this year won’t be found under the tree.

Give to complete strangers and to the marginalized. True Christian love is blind. True giving then has very little to do with others and more to do with the character of God and our own integrity. Surprise somebody who is not expecting anything from you this Christmas. Surprise somebody who is hurting or alone or without resources this Christmas. You will be a blessing and you will be blessed. Reflect that this act can become a habit and the habit can become a lifestyle.

Know what you can change and what you can’t change. Some situations and people exist that you simply cannot change. All you can do is change your reaction to those situations and persons. Don’t spend time and energy trying to change things and people you can’t change. And don’t let situations and others beyond your control define who you are and how you feel.

Control your schedule and don’t let your schedule control you. Some of our schedule we do not control. Some of it we do control. Commitments can pile up on top of each other draining us of energy and free time. A full schedule does not equal significance. Carve out chunks of time where you get to do the things you want to do with the people you want to do them with.

Unplug. Enough said.

Focus on this time as a time to grow closer to God. The best time and energy we invest each day is our time with God. Spend quality time with God during these days as you prepare for new birth in Christ this Christmas.

The best is yet to come…

Craig

Monday, December 6, 2010

Weekly Devotional: My Christmas List - Love

Breaking down the message during the week helps turn what God is saying to you into action steps. We pray these scriptures, talking points, and questions help guide you through your week.

Monday, December 6th

Read Matthew 2:1-2

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem village, Judah territory— this was during Herod's kingship—a band of wise men arrived in Jerusalem from the East. They asked around, "Where can we find and pay homage to the newborn King of the Jews? We observed a star in the eastern sky that signaled his birth. We're on pilgrimage to worship him.”

This passage portrays the “wise men” coming to pay homage to the newborn King, Christ. These wise men, described by the prophets as Kings themselves (Isaiah 60:3), give us an amazing perspective of humble, devoted, worship.
  • How well do you live each day with a heart of worship to Christ?
  • Do you look for signs of His presence as you journey through each day?
  • Ask God for grace to seek Him daily in humility and devotion, and to open the eyes of your understanding to see His presence.
Tuesday, December 7th

Read Matthew 2:3-8

When word of their inquiry got to Herod, he was terrified—and not Herod alone, but most of Jerusalem as well. Herod lost no time. He gathered all the high priests and religion scholars in the city together and asked, "Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?" They told him, "Bethlehem, Judah territory. The prophet Micah wrote it plainly: It's you, Bethlehem, in Judah's land, o longer the least of the leaders. rom you will come the ruler ho will shepherd my people, Israel." Herod then arranged a secret meeting with the scholars from the East. Pretending to be as devout as they were, he got them to tell him exactly when the birth-announcement star appeared. Then he told them the prophecy about Bethlehem, and said, "Go find this child. Leave no stone unturned. As soon as you find him, send word and I'll join you at once in your worship."

Herod, described by historians as a murderous madman, elected “King of the Jews” by the Roman Senate, had conquered Israel, rebuild the temple in Jerusalem, and ruled Israel for 34 years. When the Wise Men announced their search for “the newborn King of the Jews”, Herod realized the threat to his Kingship.
  • Who rules your life? You, societies’ influence, Christ?
  • The Word of God is God (John 1:1), and the Word promises the Holy Spirit will teach and guide you. (John 14:26). As we love Him, we follow Him.
  • Ask God to help you to allow His Word and the Holy Spirit to guide you.
Wednesday, December 8th

Read Matthew 2:9-10

Instructed by the king, they set off. Then the star appeared again, the same star they had seen in the eastern skies. It led them on until it hovered over the place of the child. They could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time!

That the Kings, traveled so far, were so excited at finding Christ, promised by God through the prophets nearly 400 years earlier, is awe inspiring.
  • How much of yourself do you give to Him?
  • Is seeking Christ a Sunday happening, or a whole life matter?
  • Ask God to give you a heart and life that is wholly dedicated to Him.
Thursday, December 9th

Read Matthew 2:11

They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, his mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped him. Then they opened their bundles and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh.

They were so overcome by Christ’s presence, they fell to their knees and worshiped him. What a display of Love.

It’s easy to love people that love us. How well do you love the unlovable, those who have hurt or offended you or committed wrong doing?
  • “We love, because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) We struggle loving others as God loves, when we haven’t fully embraced or understood God’s love for us.
  • Ask God to reveal to you the depth and breadth of His love for you.
Friday, December 10th

Read Matthew 2:12

In a dream, they were warned not to report back to Herod. So they worked out another route, left the territory without being seen, and returned to their own country.

They didn’t underrate any area of their lives, even their dreams. They responded with faith, allowing God to guide them.
  • Do you pay such close attention to God’s nudges in your life?
  • God is both God of the Universe and the smallest details of our lives.
  • Give Him the details of your life. Let His love guide you.
Saturday, December 11th

Please pray: God, You are merciful; You sent Your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation. We ask for grace to truly hear their words of warning and wash our hands of our sins, that we may celebrate aright the remembrance of the birth of Christ. We await, with joy, the second coming in glory of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Redeemer. Christ lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Looking Back. Looking Forward.

2010 has been a great year.
  • Our children’s ministry is thriving (we have had over 100 kids per week recently).
  • We launched a second worship service, our total adult Sunday morning attendance continues to grow, and adult attendance is at an all-time high.
  • We have developed a system of guest assimilation.
  • We have hired three part-time staff people. Excellent people too!
  • We have made great advances in technology.
  • We have over 100 people running a marathon or half marathon for kids in Africa.
  • Our volunteer base continues to expand.
For a ministry that is only four years old meeting in a temporary facility, 2010 has been a great year!


With that being said, we have opportunities in front of us.
  • Our 9:00 worship service has room to grow.
  • We are in need of new small group leaders and increased participation in small groups.
  • Some of our volunteers are overworked. It is critical we avoid volunteer burnout.
In addition to the very visible opportunities in front of us, we have some other major initiatives in front of us as well.
  • We have grown wider (more people) at a faster rate than we have grown deeper (discipleship). I am sensing that God is leading down a path to deeper discipleship.
  • As our ministry has grown, our financial responsibilities have grown as well. In 2011 we are going to be challenged to resource God’s vision together.
  • In 2011 we are going to start looking for a permanent location.
  • We will be challenged to pray at increased levels – both for individual and family needs and for the church. We can’t do God’s activity without God.
  • We have many potential leaders in our congregation who are not currently leading at The Water’s Edge. Many are new in the last year or two and are wanting to lead. We will work to intentionally recognize, develop, and deploy new leaders to serve in various ministries leading the way in living out God’s vision for us.
When we started The Water’s Edge a number of years ago, I urged our leaders at the time to “act our age”. Four years later, I want to remind us to “act our age”. God has blessed us in these early years. I have deep faith that much greater things are still to come. As we grow in our history and our size, our responsibility in going to increase. Acting our age today looks a lot different than acting our age four years ago. And that is a good thing. I am looking forward to spending 2011 with you.
The best is yet to come…
Craig

Monday, November 29, 2010

Weekly Devotional: My Christmas List - Hope

Talking through the message during the week helps you turn what God is saying to you into action steps. These talking points, questions, and scriptures are designed to help you take the next step.

Monday, November 29th

Read Psalm 33:13-15

The LORD looks down from heaven;
he sees all the children of man;
from where he sits enthroned he looks out
on all the inhabitants of the earth,
he who fashions the hearts of them all
and observes all their deeds.

This passage reminds us that God is God and we are not. This is important to understand as we want to have a healthy relationship with God. We show our love to God through what we hold in our hearts and what we do with our lives.

  • What is one way you can honor God better with your life- with what you do?
  • The Word of God calls us to live “Holy” lives; to aim to be like God. Invite God to replace your sins with His presence in your life.
  • God has good things in store for you! (James 1:17) Pray and thank God for a life journey that is both fulfilling for you and a joy to Him.
Tuesday, November 30th

Read Psalms 33:16-18

The king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
and by its great might it cannot rescue
Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love

Here, King David tells us we can’t rely on ourselves or our possessions to help us win battles we face in life, but that God is with those who place their hope in Him. He is dedicated to helping us in our troubles. We look to His Word for guidance, seek wise counsel, and pray placing our circumstances firmly in His hands.

On a scale of 1 to 10 how strong is your Faith and Hope in God?

  • Though our hope is in God, He knows we need each other’s encouragement and support, and this strengthens our faith. Pray and ask God to help you find a small group or study that would be a good fit for you.
  • Ask Him to surround you with friends that are strong in faith who will be a source of God’s strength and help to you.

Wednesday, December 1st

Read Psalms 33:20-22

Our soul waits for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.

Wow, WAIT? Do we respond to God with patience and trust? We have been given the freedom to choose. We can choose today to worry, or to hope in God, the source of all our blessings.

  • Thank God that He is your help and your protection, that you can trust Him with your problems and concerns.
  • Look for an opportunity today to be an encouragement to someone.

Thursday, December 2nd

Matthew 1:18-20

And her promised husband Joseph, being a just and upright man and not willing to expose her publicly and to shame and disgrace her, decided to repudiate and dismiss and her quietly and secretly.

Joseph had discovered Mary was pregnant and it wasn’t his child. Joseph, focused on protecting her, and showed his integrity and compassion in the way he responded to her situation.

  • How do you respond to people who are caught up in a difficult situation? Do you judge them, or do you look for ways to help and encourage them?
  • Ask God to give you a heart of integrity and love so that you can give hope to others.

Friday, December 3rd

Matthew 1:22-24 (Amplified Bible)

All this took place that it might be fulfilled which the Lord had spoken through the prophet, “Behold, the virgin shall become pregnant and give birth to a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel--which, when translated, means, God with us.”

Then Joseph, being aroused from his sleep, did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him: he took her to his side as his wife.

Joseph believed God, he placed his trust and hope in God, and he obeyed Him. Living in this world of instant gratification, immorality, and self-sufficiency can blow hard against a heart attitude of integrity, patience, trust, hope, and love.

  • What are some specific areas where you are tempted to go with the flow, rather than go with God?
  • What are some specific steps you can take in your life to walk with God more fully?

Saturday, December 4th

Pray:

God, You are merciful; You sent Your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation. We ask for grace to truly hear their words of warning and wash our hands of our sins, that we may celebrate aright the remembrance of the birth of Christ. We await, with joy, the second coming in glory of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Redeemer. Christ lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

God's Christmas List

It is almost December. The cold, north wind finally has a bite to it. We have gotten a nice snowfall. Perfect for snowmen and gone the next day. Christmas music is starting to play on the radio. The newspaper is getting thicker. Calendars are starting to fill up.


The young boy makes his Christmas list. It is long and detailed. Sporting goods, clothes, video games, and Legos. He is practicing for the Christmas program at the church. He looks forward to time off of school and seeing cousins and grandparents. His eyes are wide open with optimism and excitement.

The young woman is in college. She has lots of papers to write and more tests to take. She is just trying to finish the semester. She is looking more forward to a few weeks off more than anything else, although she is excited about seeing her family and sleeping in her own bed. She wants gift cards for Christmas. Nobody in her family is qualified to buy her clothes. What she really wants though is some self-esteem. A few guys she has dated haven’t called her back. A few professors she learns from have called her average. Her eyes are sad.

The woman has three kids between ages six and eleven. She has a busy husband and a full-time job. She just doesn’t know how it is all going to get done. Shopping , wrapping, baking, partying, travelling, events at school, in addition to an already overloaded life. She doesn’t really have a Christmas list. Her husband usually gets her something expensive and she is flattered, but it’s not really what she wants. What she really wants is some time alone or at least a few moments to slow down. Her eyes are exhausted.

The man looks out his window. He remembers the days of yesteryear when the lawn was filled with children playing ball. His wife died a few years ago. The kids are grown-up. One lives in California, one lives in Texas, and two of them live locally. He doesn’t get to see any of them much – too many other things going on for the kids. They are all going to be home for Christmas. The only thing he wants for Christmas is to see a few grandkids laughing and for the few days together to go slow. His eyes are filled with memories.

One day God looked at the world and knew a better way existed. So he became human and lived as one of us. The world hasn’t been the same since. For the optimist, the sad, the exhausted, the young, the old, the sinner, the saint, the poet, and the athlete – the only things God really gives are rest, peace, joy, hope, love, grace, forgiveness, healing, and salvation – which is just as well because those are the things the world really needs.

The best is yet to come…

Craig

Monday, November 22, 2010

Margin: Moral Margin - The Weekly Challenge

Talking through the message during the week helps you turn what God is saying to you into action steps. These talking points, questions, and scriptures are designed to help you take the next step.

Monday, November 22nd

Read James 1:13-15

And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.


The pattern of sin is described in this passage. First, we are enticed and tempted by our own sinful nature and then that temptation leads to sin and all its consequences.

  • Why do you think sin is such an easy trap for most people to fall into?
  • In what ways does the world’s view of morality conflict with God’s view?
  • How have you seen your life or the life of someone you know impacted by sin?

Tuesday, November 23rd

Read Ephesians 5:1-6

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him.

Paul instructs us to not only flee from sexual immorality, but that that there should not be any hint of immorality in our lives.

  • What are some of the defenses and safeguards you have in place that help put distance between you and sin?
  • In what areas of your life are you lacking moral margin? How can you go about creating that margin?

Wednesday, November 24th

Read Romans 6:12-14

Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.


In these verses, Paul tells us that we should not give in to sin with our bodies, but rather offer our bodies to God as instruments of righteousness.

  • God has called us to a higher standard when it comes to morality. Describe how you have been able to live up to that standard and how difficult it can be striving to live up to that standard.
  • How can people such as your small group, friends, family, or spouse help you in living a life with moral margin?

Thursday, November 25th

Read Psalm 51:7-12

Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me—now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.


David messed up. He confessed his sin to God and asked for forgiveness and restoration.

  • What are some specific areas where you have messed up?
  • What is preventing you from fully accepting God’s forgiveness?
  • What steps do you need to take to begin or continue on a process of restoration?

Friday, November 26th

Here are some specific things you can do this week to take a step toward living life with the margin God intends for your life.

If you are struggling with any type of sin, God is offering you a chance to get free. Seek help this week from a professional counselor, pastor, friend, family member, or accountability partner. Allow them to help you find the assistance you need in dealing with your sin and in finding ways to guard against that temptation in the future.

Saturday, November 27th

Use these prayer tips to guide your time with God this week.

  • Confess to God in prayer any areas of immorality that you are struggling with. Ask for His help and deliverance.
  • Ask God to help you in defending yourself against immorality in your life.
  • Ask God in prayer for strength in guarding yourself from impure thoughts.
  • Pray and ask God to reveal to you those areas in your life where you need moral margin. Ask Him to help you achieve it.
  • Pray for those you know who are dealing with sexual sin and its aftermath. Ask God to comfort them and deliver them.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thanksgiving List

Things I’m Thankful For – In No Particular Order

  1. That my two boys share the same passion for Kraft Macaroni and Cheese that I do.
  2. For the seasons of the year: apples and pumpkins in the fall; snowmen and snowballs in the winter; tulips and green grass in the spring; and sweating and swimming in the summer.
  3. The Bible. God has a way of speaking to me every time I read it. Comforting me when I’m afflicted and afflicting me when I am comfortable.
  4. That I live in a country where I can vote.
  5. For the teachers who teach my two sons. Their life is better because of you.
  6. For the basic physical necessities in life: food to eat, a house to live, and clothes to wear.
  7. Playing chess with Benjamin and trains with David. Wrestling with both of them. Being a dad.
  8. To live in a country with abundant resources: power and fresh water are a dream for many people in the world.
  9. Being able to run without pain for the first time in over a year and being able to walk without pain the day after I run.
  10. That I’m saved by grace through faith. (Ephesians 2:8)
  11. That I serve a church with the greatest people I have ever known: People who are examples of giving, serving, and loving. I’m blessed to be taking this journey of life with you.
  12. That I have a job where I get to hold babies the day they are born, and stand up in front of people and talk to them on the day they are married.
  13. For a great wife who is also a great mom.
  14. For my small group. It is an eclectic group of men and women who laugh, learn, and pray together.
  15. For a big, goofy Newfondland dog Georgia who has been part of our family for ten years.
  16. For nearly 100 people who are registered to train for and run the Lincoln Marathon or Half Marathon to raise money for kids in Africa.
  17. For being the parent of a fourth grader: I get to learn the state capitals all over again.
  18. That God is with me and I have no reason to fear the present or the future. (Isaiah 43:5
  19. My iPhone. It makes my life easier.
  20. For my weekly run at Platte River State Park where I turn my iPhone off for a few hours: Punishing the Body + Clearing the Mind + Renewing the Soul = A Great Morning.
  21. Prayer. Lunches at Jason’s Deli. Advil. Forgiveness. Good friends. Hope. Laughter. Grace.
  22. That I am loved by God. (John 15:13)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Margin: Financial Margin - The Weekly Challenge

Talking through the message during the week helps you turn what God is saying to you into action steps. These talking points, questions, and scriptures are designed to help you take the next step. Use these questions for individual or group study.

Monday, November 15th

Read 1 Timothy 6:6-10

Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.

Read Proverbs 21:20

The wise have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get.

These verses encourage us to not be foolish with money, but to be content with what we have. We are also warned not to be lured by money’s temptation.

  • Even though we all know better, why do you think many of us tend to be foolish with our money and possessions?
  • How have you seen the stress caused by lack of financial margin limit your relationship with God and your ability to minister and give to others?
Tuesday, November 16th

Read Matthew 6:19-21

Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

Jesus instructs us in this passage to store up treasures in heaven and not on earth.

  • Where your money goes, your heart follows. Based on how you spend your money, which types of treasures are you currently storing up?
  • What can you do to start putting God first in your life instead of money?
Wednesday, November 17th

Read Malachi 3:8-10.

“Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated me. But you ask, ‘What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you?’ You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!”

  • God asks us in this passage to test Him so that we can experience the blessings that result from tithing.
  • Describe how you have seen tithing build your faith and break the cycle of materialism and consumerism in your life?

Thursday, November 18th

Read Proverbs 15:16

Better to have little, with fear for the Lord, than to have great treasure and inner turmoil.

Read Proverbs 8:18-19.

I have riches and honor, as well as enduring wealth and justice. My gifts are better than gold, even the purest gold, my wages better than sterling silver!

These scriptures tell us that when we put God first instead of money, we become supernaturally content and we end up with more of what matters.

  • How have you found contentment in God? How does it compare to the contentment money and possessions bring?
  • In what ways has God blessed you with more of the things that truly matter in life?

Friday, November 19th – The Next Steps

  • Go through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University program. FPU is one of the best programs for learning how to manage your finances in a Biblical way.
  • Seek guidance from someone you know who has successfully achieved financial margin in their life. Ask them to show you ways you can better handle your finances in a way that is honoring to God. Open up and really let them into your spending and budgeting habits.

Saturday, November 20th – Pray About It

Use these prayer tips to guide your time with God

  • Lift up to God the financial stress you have in life. Seek His guidance in overcoming it.
  • Commit to God that you will place Him first instead of money in your life.
  • Thank God for all of the many blessings He has given you. Praise Him during this time.
  • Seek God’s contentment for your life. Pray that He will become your only source for contentment.
  • Ask God to continue to bless you with the things that matter most in life.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thanksgiving

I remember Thanksgiving Day of years gone by. Our crowded house was even more crowded than usual. My mom and sisters worked in the kitchen. The smell of turkey filled the house. My dad and older brother went pheasant hunting. I snacked on scraps. Uncle Bud was always the first to arrive. He was a farmer. Never late to anything. Both sets of grandparents would come a little later with all sorts of food. Grandpa Pete brought a relish tray and some sort of orange slush the kids weren’t allowed to drink. Grandpa Adolf brought various smelly fish and sweet Norwegian pastries.


Around one o’clock the food started coming and it didn’t stop coming for hours. Turkey, potatoes of various varieties, oysters, boiled eggs with a whipped yellow filling, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and of course pumpkin pie and apple pie.

The women always cleaned up. (Don’t blame me for that. I’m the baby in the family.) The men went to the family room and watched the Cowboys or the Lions play football. Most of the men would fall asleep. Maybe hibernate is a better word. I would go look for leftovers with great success, as there were always plenty around. The rest of the day was spent outside enjoying walks rustling through the leaves in the cool and crisp air, playing fiercely competitive board games, and exchanging ideas for Christmas gifts.

Today, Thanksgiving is usually still celebrated by a feast and with family. It is a welcomed few days off for most workers. Often Christmas decorations are put out. And then there is planning for shopping the morning after Thanksgiving—a strategic plot on how to get one member of each family to Walmart, Best Buy, and Nebraska Furniture Mart before five o’clock the next morning. We have come a long way since the first Thanksgiving.

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. –Thorton Wilder



Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. -1 Thessalonians 5:18

It is easy to forget that contentment in life usually does not come by achieving or acquiring something we do not currently have, but instead by recognizing and appreciating what we have been blessed with. It is a whole lot better to embrace thanksgiving as a life-long attitude than it is to occasionally remember to feel or be thankful. The feast doesn’t have to be a day. The feast can be daily. It is God’s plan for our life that we be thankful to Him and thankful to others. Not so much for God or even for others. But for us. Thanksgiving is a simple attitude adjustment that can simply change our lives.

Each day, be intentionally thankful. Write down a few things you are thankful for. From the common to the complex. Be grateful. Tell, give, and show God thank you. Tell, give, and show others thank you. Your life won’t ever quite be the same again.

The best is yet to come…

Craig

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Monday, November 8, 2010

Margin: Scheduling Margin - The Weekly Challenge

Talking through the message during the week helps you turn what God is saying to you into action steps. These talking points, questions, and scriptures are designed to help you take the next step. Use these questions for individual or group study.

Monday, November 8th – Read Ephesians 5:15-17

15 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. 17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.

Paul encourages us in these verses to be wise in how we use our time so that we can make the most every opportunity.

In order to make the most of our limited time, we should ask the question “In light of _____, is it wise?” before making decisions about your schedule. What would you put in the blank when asking that question? Is it your goals, your family’s needs, your marriage, you relationship with God or something else? Explain.

Tuesday, November 9th – Read Romans 12:1-8

1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.3 Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. 4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.

6 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. 7 If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.


Paul instructs us in this passage to follow God’s plan for our lives in using the gifts He gave us instead of falling to the patterns of this world.

The “normal” pattern of today’s society is busyness, meaning that if we are not busy we are not productive.

  • What things in your life are keeping you too busy? How is that busyness affecting all areas of your life?
  • Describe a time when you said “no” to something good that ultimately allowed you to say “yes” to God’s best.
  • What are the things in your life that you value most? Does the way you use your time reflect those values? Why or why not?
Wednesday, November 10th – Read Psalm 127:2

It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.

When we are weary from the busyness of life, God encourages us in these passages to focus on what matters most—spending intimate time with God and finding rest in Him.

  • How important is your intimate time with God?
  • How does that time impact your daily life?
  • How is the rest you find in God different and more satisfying than other kinds of rest or comfort?
Thursday, November 11th – Read Hosea 6:1-6

1 “Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces; now he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds.
2 In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence.
3 Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.”
4 “O Israel and Judah, what should I do with you?” asks the Lord. “For your love vanishes like the morning mist and disappears like dew in the sunlight.
5 I sent my prophets to cut you to pieces—to slaughter you with my words, with judgments as inescapable as light.
6 I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.

What major changes will you make starting now that will allow you to create margin for things you value most in life?

Friday, November 12th – Prayer Day

Use these prayer tips to guide your time with God this week

  • Confess those areas of your life in prayer that are causing too much busyness. Ask for God’s help.
  • Ask God in prayer to give you the strength to say no to good things so that you can say yes to His best.
  • Commit to God the things you will do immediately that will allow you to create more margin in your schedule.
Saturday, November 13th – The Next Steps
  1. Make a simple plan that will help you create and schedule more margin in your life.
  2. Share this plan with another person so that they can help you succeed.